Wild Cherry Benefits

Wild Cherry
Latin Name

Prunus serotina

Also Known As

Black Cherry, Chokeberry, Wild Cherry Bark, Rum Cherry, Mountain Black Cherry


North America

Parts Used


Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Wild Cherry Bark was one of the most treasured herbs of Native American Tribes. It was used as a powerful cough suppressant, particularly for whooping cough, as a general GI tonic, a treatment for diarrhoea, as a purgative for colds and applied topically to speed up wound healing and staunch bleeding. The Cherokees utilised the bark for pain relief during labour, while the Mohegans saw it as a remedy for various illnesses including dysentery.

Also popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wild Cherry Bark is indicated when there is “heart fire” – palpitations, restlessness, agitation, fever and a rapid pulse.

Wild Cherry Benefits

Cough Suppressant / Respiratory Health

Wild Cherry Bark has a powerful antitussive (cough suppressing) action, and as such is indicated in dry, hacking coughs that are accompanied by spasms. Due to its astringent, sedative, antispasmodic, and bronchodilator actions, it dries mucus, increases expectoration, eases coughing, and opens the airways. Wild Cherry Bark contains cyanogenic glycosides that are hydrolysed in the body to glucose, benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid, otherwise known as prussic acid. Prussic acid is rapidly excreted via the lungs where it first increases respiration and then sedates the sensory nerves which provoke the cough reflex.

With a mild sedative action, a tincture or syrup of Wild Cherry Bark is especially helpful for coughs that make it difficult to sleep through the night. It is also useful for relieving unproductive, irritating coughs that linger after the initial infection has cleared up.

Digestive Health

Wild Cherry Bark is classed as a bitter herb – bitters support digestive function by stimulating bitter receptors on the tongue, stomach, gallbladder and pancreas. Their primary effect is to promote digestive juices such as stomach acid, bile and enzymes to breakdown food and assist in the absorption of nutrients.

Additionally, Wild Cherry Bark is able to strengthen and tone the digestive system as a whole, and its relaxant qualities make it especially useful in cases of nervous dyspepsia (indigestion).

Heart Health

The bark of the Wild Cherry tree has long been recognised as a remedy for cardiac weakness, especially when accompanied by a chronic cough, palpitations and high blood pressure.

According to the renowned herbalist Matthew Wood, "Wild Cherry Bark acts upon the cardiovascular system, equalising the circulation and reducing the irritation and congestion which would encumber the heart. The combination of sweet and bitter indicates a remedy that is especially nutritive, as both these flavours stimulate the secretions of the mouth, stomach and digestive system. Bitterness is associated with the heart and circulation as well, since it reduces irritation and fever. The nourishing influence indicated by the sweet flavor is directed, as it were, towards the heart. This is joined by the astringency, which also tones up the heart.  Prunus serotina not only reduces irritation but nourishes, tonifies and strengthens the heart muscle. Wild Cherry is the American Indian version of Crataegus (Hawthorn), which is also a member of the Rosaceae family used in heart and digestive problems.”

Skin Health

The constituents in Wild Cherry Bark help to reduce inflammation and act as an astringent to tissues. Applied topically, it is beneficial as an eyewash for inflamed, puffy eyes and it can be added to natural skin cream to help soothe problems such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, and rashes.

Typical Use

Wild Cherry Bark Tincture

Can be added to water or fruit juice and taken when required.

Traditionally Taken: 2-3ml taken 2-3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.

Folklore and History

As a staple in the Native American's apothecary, Wild Cherry Bark found notoriety after curing the famous American explorer Meriwether Lewis of a severe bout of gastric upset. According to the Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants, "When Captain Meriwether Lewis fell ill with fever and abdominal cramps on the Lewis and Clark expedition, he was on his feet the next day after being dosed with chokecherry twigs simmered in water." 

Several tribes used the inner bark and the berries to treat diarrhea or worms, including the Menominees, the Chippewa, and the Cherokee. Poultices of Wild Cherry Bark or root proved useful in treating various wounds or skin problems. The Chippewa applied a poultice of the inner bark to cuts, wounds, ulcers, and burns

Wild Cherry Bark was listed in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1970 as an antitussive and a sedative.

Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry Bark contains: Cyanogenic glycosides (prunasin and amygdalin), flavonoids, benzaldehyde, volatile oils, plant acids, tannins, calcium, potassium, and iron 


Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Please contact your healthcare practitioner if you are taking prescription medications.